History



The village of Yagodnaya Polyana, located in the Kreis district of Saratov province, Russia, was founded on August 28, 1767 by 80 families, many from Budingen, Hesse, Germany. There were 147 male and 122 female settlers, for a total of 269 acording to Georg Kromm, the schoolmaster historian. Karl Stumpp shows 402 in 1772, but this may have included neighboring Pobotschnoje.
The following is an excerpt from an article entitled "Die Deutschen Ansiedler an der Wolga" in the Schottner (Germany) Kreisblatt in 1910. The schoolmaster in Yagodnaya Polyana, Herr Georg Kromm, wrote it. It was given to the editors of Usu Leut by Mrs. Emma Haynes (who found it at the archives in Schotten), and translated by Mrs. Albert Weirich and William L. Scheirman.


"During the whole journey everybody had received their promised living expenses and there had been enough to live on. The Russian government also gave other aid to the farmers.  Each family received one small horse and a cow with a Russian plow, a harrow, a drill, a simple Russian farm cart, and a shovel and axe, etc. They could also borrow money for simple furniture and seed.

"Among the first settlers were all kinds of craftsmen, merchants, artists, scientists and persons of distinction...Only a few of the settlers were farmers and they had to teach all the others.  Most of the people were poor, having absolutely nothing. But there were a few that had quite a bit and others received inheritances later on.

A continuation of the article, from "Return to Berry Meadow" by Richard Scheuerman:
"Evidently our Yagodnaya Polyana kin traveled with the first group of settlers via the direct route via Novgorod, Tver, Moscow, Ryasan and Pensa to the county seat Petrovsk, named after Peter the Great, where they spent the winter. Yet, this does not mean that they stayed in Petrovsk proper; they could have spent the winter in any of the above mentioned villages.  In fact, one can assume that they stayed in one of the villages farther north since they arrived here in Yagodnaya Polyana only on August 28, 1767. (The arrival date has been listed elsewhere are Sept. 3 and Sept. 16, 1767.) Petrovsk is situated only forty versts north of here. Also traveling at that time was very slow, step by step, or pace by pace. They should have been able to make the trip in one day.

"There is a good, wide road from Moscow to Pensa, Petrovsk and on to Saratov. Upon leaving Petrovsk, once they reached the village of Ozerki on this particular route, which is only seven versts (one verst = .6629 of a mile) from here, they should have arrived within three to four hours. Most likely the virgin forest here was an insurmountable obstacle. Therefore, they had to continue on a road leading south until they reached the treeless steppes covered with grass, where they had to turn north to get here. There were roads leading in this direction. Following the main road, they arrived approximately two to three versts south of here in a beautiful, wide canyon, surrounded by forest, where there was also a well-traveled road. They rested at one of the springs in this canyon. Although the spring water was fresh and clear, they did not consider staying here. The group consisted of eighty families and they feared the spring would not supply enough water for all of them. Therefore, they decided to look for a better and larger water source and a better place, if one could be found. Some of the brave men, armed with weapons, went north exploring. After they had walked two or three verst, they heard roaring water, like a huge waterfall, in another, almost impenetrable canyon. The men worked their way through the wilderness overcame numerous obstacles, until they reached their goal. It was no small matter to undertake this venture as wild animals or robbers could have attacked them. However, their anxieties disappeared when they discovered this huge spring and many smaller ones around it. They decided to establish their colony on this ground."

The name Yagodnaya Polyana is derived from the noun yagada meaning "berry." Many wild berries grew on the site.


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